Colorado Avalanche: 2 Keys to Games 3 and 4 at Home

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 18: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks fights for position against Alexander Kerfoot #13 of the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on January 18, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JANUARY 18: Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks fights for position against Alexander Kerfoot #13 of the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on January 18, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Colorado Avalanche have a real chance of winning the series against the Sharks, especially if they take both home games.

The Colorado Avalanche are hosting the San Jose Sharks for Games 3 and 4 at the Pepsi Center. They come into Game 3 having tied the series in San Jose, effectively erasing home ice advantage.

In other words, all the team has to do to win the series is win all their home games. SAP Center has been a tough arena for the Avalanche, while they’ve had great success at home, especially in the playoffs.

The Sharks are a pesky good team, though, and there’s no easy road for Colorado tonight and Thursday night. However, here are two keys to the Avalanche taking their two home games.

Skate Circles around the Sharks

The Sharks players are old and slow. They’re also big and mean, so the best way for the Colorado Avalanche to solve them is to skate circles around them.

When it comes to our new dynamic defensive duo, I mean literally skate circles around them:

I wasn’t a big fan of putting Sam Girard and Cale Makar together at first because they’re both young and small. They weren’t massacred too badly in Game 2, and you can see by the above clip they even made their own mayhem. At home, with the Avs getting to make the matchups they want, the Dynamic Duo might be even more effective.

It’s not just them, though. Colorado is built as a speedy team. Pretty much every player has some level of offensive rush capability and some, like Nathan MacKinnon, are renowned for it. They can really burn the Sharks with their skating ability.

Shut Down Burns

I cannot emphasize this enough. The Colorado Avalanche must find a way to slay the Sasquatch Samurai. Or at least shut him down. Brent Burns is single-handedly wrecking havoc on our team.

He has seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) in the two games so far. He cannot be allowed to continue having his way every time he’s on the ice.

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Burns is successful because of his size and offensive acumen. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound man is a defenseman, but he’s even played forward at the NHL level.

Brent is not invincible, though. The 34-year-old is that — 34 years old. And he gets frazzled when players get all up in his face — probably because a lot of players can’t reach his face. Luckily, though the trend for the Avs has been to get smaller and speedier, we’ve still got a few sizable players, notably Nikita Zadorov and Erik Johnson. And Ian Cole is afraid of no man. Sometimes he should be, but he isn’t.

Colorado needs to focus on a hard forecheck, which is what worked for the Vegas Golden Knights in limiting the danger of Burns and the Sharks offense as well. He earned just four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in seven games in that series.

The Knights were all over him. They forced him to try making plays up the wall then promptly plugged up those spaces. He had nowhere to go.

Again, with the final change being ours, hopefully the Avalanche can make the matchups that will allow for shutting down Burns.

(Thanks to Boston Bruins/Vegas Golden Knights fan Anthony Forgione for the insight into VGK’s game.)

How to Enjoy the Game

Time: 8:00 pm MT
TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS
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After the win on Sunday, we’re guaranteed at least a Game 5. I wouldn’t mind if Colorado finished the series with a win in San Jose on Saturday.